Catholics in the United Church of Christ (Luti and Warner)
You've heard the numbers. Maybe you've counted them up yourself in your own congregation. No one has done a scientific study to prove it, but we're told that in some United Church of Christ congregations, as many as 40% of recent newcomers were raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. Large numbers of seminary students with Catholic backgrounds are also preparing for ordination in the United Church of Christ. What's going on?
Luti and Warner tell us that for better or worse, denomination swapping is a fact of contemporary American life. The starting point for Catholics in the United Church of Christ is one of caring for all people who come to our congregations, no matter where they have come from, no matter where they find themselves on the journey of life and faith.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
J. Mary Luti grew up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in a family of Italian Catholics, with a dose of Irish tossed in for good measure! Steeped in pre-Vatican II Catholicism, with its emphasis on ritual and mystery, she was in college when the Council's reforms broke upon the Catholic world. Her subsequent Catholic life, including 19 years as a member of a women's religious community, was shaped by the intellectual and spiritual challenges stirred up by the transition from one kind of Catholic Church to another. She studied theology with the Jesuits at Boston College, earning a Ph.D in the late 1980s. At the same time she began teaching at Andover Newton Theological School, where her relationships with UCC faculty members and students helped her clarify nagging questions about her religious commitments. She joined a UCC congregation in 1990. In 2000, she accepted a call to First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, UCC, and was ordained that same year. Mary served as senior minister of First Church for eight years, until she was called back to Andover Newton to be Visiting Professor of Worship and Preaching and the Director of the Wilson Chapel.
Andrew B. Warner's formative religious experiences were in parishes that were established in the suburbs of Washington, D. C., in the wake of that watershed event in Catholic history known as Vatican II. His parents had been members of the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, but became Catholics in large part because they valued the preaching of the local priest. Andrew and his family soon became deeply involved in several Catholic lay movements. In college, Andrew came out as a gay man. This decision was the start of the spiritual journey that finally led him to the United Church of Christ. He was ordained in 1997 at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, UCC in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and he continues to serve in his first call, Plymouth UCC, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he is the Senior Minister. Andrew is also a writer, currently working on Becoming Christian, a book that explores how the liturgical year teaches us the basics of the Christian faith.